16. FORCED LABOUR AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING
VANN Yuvaktep, RADU Mares
transnational effects (chapter 4) were adopted in the last decade, first in the US and then in the UK. The ILO has almost a century old convention on the abolition of forced labour; it also has a very recent instrument that calls directly on private and public actors to do ‘due diligence’, which is in line with the UNGPs (chapters 7-14). Even international trade law has long prohibited forced labour, not necessarily because of being an inhumane practice but because forced labor is free labour distorting international competition. Prison labor might or might not amount to forced labour depending on circumstances, but remains a sensitive issue.
In Cambodia, as in other developing countries, modern slavery has been a serious issue for decades. Abuses take the form of trafficking of persons into forced marriages abroad, forced child labor in the construction industry, forced labour and trafficking in the fishing industry at sea, and trafficking for sexual exploitation in both domestic and foreign contexts. There have been several Cambodian laws and international/regional efforts to combat modern slavery. However, Cambodia remains a vulnerable country as a source, transit, and destination country for human trafficking due to poverty, the demand in other countries for workers through seemingly-attractive-but-trapped job offers, and the booming construction and tourism sector.
- Types of forced labour (modern slavery)
- Forced labour in supply chains
- Prison labour
- Recruitment agencies
- Corporate reports
- Good business practices
- Corrective actions in supply chains
- Trade law measures regarding forced labour
- Recruitment fees (‘employer pays’ principle)
- Migrant workers
- Risks in agriculture and sporting events
ILO, Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage
(…) modern slavery covers a set of specific legal concepts including forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, other slavery and slavery like practices, and human trafficking. Although modern slavery is not defined in law, it is used as an umbrella term that focuses attention on commonalities across these legal concepts. Essentially, it refers to situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, deception, and/or abuse of power.
Forced labour of adults is defined, for purposes of measurement, as work for which a person has not offered him or herself voluntarily (criterion of “involuntariness”) and which is performed under coercion (criterion of “menace of penalty”) applied by an employer or a third party. The coercion may take place during the worker’s recruitment process to force him or her to accept the job or, once the person is working, to force him or her to do tasks that were not part of what was agreed to at the time of recruitment or to prevent him or her from leaving the job.
This study examined different forms of forced labour, distinguishing between forced labour imposed by private actors (such as employers in private businesses) and that which was imposed by states. Of the 24.9 million victims of forced labour, 16 million were in the private economy, another 4.8 million were in forced sexual exploitation, and 4.1 million were in forced labour imposed by state authorities.
An estimated 16 million people were in forced labour in the private economy in 2016. More women than men are affected by privately imposed forced labour, with 9.2 million (57.6 per cent) female and 6.8 million (42.4 per cent) male. Half of these men and women (51 per cent) were in debt bondage, in which personal debt is used to forcibly obtain labour. This proportion rises above 70 per cent for adults who were forced to work in agriculture, domestic work, or manufacturing.
Among cases where the type of work was known, the largest share of adults who were in forced labour were domestic workers (24 per cent). This was followed by the construction (18 per cent), manufacturing (15 per cent), and agriculture and fishing (11 per cent) sectors.
Most victims of forced labour suffered multiple forms of coercion from employers or recruiters as a way of preventing them from being able to leave the situation. Nearly one-quarter of victims (24 per cent) had their wages withheld or were prevented from leaving by threats of non-payment of due wages. This was followed by threats of violence (17 per cent), acts of physical violence (16 per cent), and threats against family (12 per cent). For women, 7 per cent of victims reported acts of sexual violence.
There were an estimated 4.1 million people in state-imposed forced labour on average in 2016. They included citizens recruited by their state authorities to participate in agriculture or construction work for purposes of economic development, young military conscripts forced to perform work that was not of military nature, those forced to perform communal services that were not decided upon at the community level and do not benefit them, or prisoners forced to work against their will outside] the exceptions established by the ILO supervisory bodies.
Conclusions and way forward
Ending modern slavery will require a multi-faceted response that addresses the array of forces – economic, social, cultural, and legal – that contribute to vulnerability and enable abuses. (…)
Stronger social protection floors are necessary to offset the vulnerabilities that can push people into modern slavery. Extending labour rights in the informal economy – where modern slavery is most likely to occur – is needed to protect workers from exploitation. Given that a large share of modern slavery can be traced to migration, improved migration governance is vitally important to preventing forced labour and protecting victims.
Additionally, the risk and typology of modern slavery is strongly influenced by gender, and this must also be taken into account in developing policy responses. Addressing the root causes of debt bondage, a widespread means of coercion, is another necessary element of forced labour prevention, while improved victim identification is critical to extending protection to the vast majority of modern slavery victims who are currently unidentified or unattended. Finally, we know that much of modern slavery today occurs in contexts of state fragility, conflict, and crisis, pointing to the need to address the risk of modern slavery as part of humanitarian actions in these situations. (…)
International cooperation in addressing modern slavery is essential given its global and cross-border dimensions. Alliance 8.7, a multi-stakeholder partnership committed to achieving Target 8.7 of the Sustainable Development Goals, has an important role to play in this regard. The Global Estimates indicate that the majority of forced labour today exists in the private economy. This underscores the importance of partnering with the business community – alongside employers’ and workers’ organisations, and civil society organisations – to eradicate forced labour in supply chains and in the private economy more broadly. Cooperation should be strengthened between and among governments and with relevant international and regional organizations in areas such as labour law enforcement, criminal law enforcement, and the management of migration in order to prevent trafficking and to address forced labour across borders.
ILO, Forced Labour Convention
1. For the purposes of this Convention the term forced or compulsory labour shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.
2. Nevertheless, for the purposes of this Convention, the term forced or compulsory labour shall not include–
- any work or service exacted in virtue of compulsory military service laws for work of a purely military character;
- any work or service which forms part of the normal civic obligations of the citizens of a fully self-governing country;
- any work or service exacted from any person as a consequence of a conviction in a court of law, provided that the said work or service is carried out under the supervision and control of a public authority and that the said person is not hired to or placed at the disposal of private individuals, companies or associations;
- any work or service exacted in cases of emergency, that is to say, in the event of war or of a calamity or threatened calamity, such as fire, flood, famine, earthquake, violent epidemic or epizootic diseases, invasion by animal, insect or vegetable pests, and in general any circumstance that would endanger the existence or the well-being of the whole or part of the population;
- minor communal services of a kind which, being performed by the members of the community in the direct interest of the said community, can therefore be considered as normal civic obligations incumbent upon the members of the community, provided that the members of the community or their direct representatives shall have the right to be consulted in regard to the need for such services.
1. The competent authority shall not impose or permit the imposition of forced or compulsory labour for the benefit of private individuals, companies or associations. (…)
1. The normal working hours of any person from whom forced or compulsory labour is exacted shall be the same as those prevailing in the case of voluntary labour(…)
1. With the exception of the forced or compulsory labour provided for in Article 10 of this Convention, forced or compulsory labour of all kinds shall be remunerated in cash at rates not less than those prevailing for similar kinds of work either in the district in which the labour is employed or in the district from which the labour is recruited, whichever may be the higher. (…)
ILO, Abolition of Forced Labour Convention
Each Member of the International Labour Organisation which ratifies this Convention undertakes to suppress and not to make use of any form of forced or compulsory labour
- as a means of political coercion or education or as a punishment for holding or expressing political views or views ideologically opposed to the established political, social or economic system;
- as a method of mobilising and using labour for purposes of economic development;
- as a means of labour discipline;
- as a punishment for having participated in strikes;
- as a means of racial, social, national or religious discrimination.
ILO, Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention
The measures to be taken for the prevention of forced or compulsory labour shall include:
- educating and informing people, especially those considered to be particularly vulnerable, in order to prevent their becoming victims of forced or compulsory labour;
- educating and informing employers, in order to prevent their becoming involved in forced or compulsory labour practices; (…)
- protecting persons, particularly migrant workers, from possible abusive and fraudulent practices during the recruitment and placement process;
- supporting due diligence by both the public and private sectors to prevent and respond to risks of forced or compulsory labour; and
- addressing the root causes and factors that heighten the risks of forced or compulsory labour.
Each Member shall take effective measures for the identification, release, protection, recovery and rehabilitation of all victims of forced or compulsory labour, as well as the provision of other forms of assistance and support.
ILO, Forced Labour Recommendation
8. Members should take measures to eliminate abuses and fraudulent practices by labour recruiters and employment agencies, such as:
- eliminating the charging of recruitment fees to workers;
- requiring transparent contracts that clearly explain terms of employment and conditions of work;
- establishing adequate and accessible complaint mechanisms;
- imposing adequate penalties; and
- regulating or licensing these services.
ILO, Private Employment Agencies Convention
1. Private employment agencies shall not charge directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, any fees or costs to workers.
2. In the interest of the workers concerned, and after consulting the most representative organizations of employers and workers, the competent authority may authorize exceptions to the provisions of paragraph 1 above in respect of certain categories of workers, as well as specified types of services provided by private employment agencies.
3. A Member which has authorized exceptions under paragraph 2 above shall, in its reports under article 22 of the Constitution of the International Labour Organization, provide information on such exceptions and give the reasons therefor.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
1. No one shall be held in slavery; slavery and the slave-trade in all their forms shall be prohibited.
2. No one shall be held in servitude.
- No one shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour;
- Paragraph 3 (a) shall not be held to preclude, in countries where imprisonment with hard labour may be imposed as a punishment for a crime, the performance of hard labour in pursuance of a sentence to such punishment by a competent court;
- For the purpose of this paragraph the term “forced or compulsory labour” shall not include:
(i) Any work or service, not referred to in subparagraph (b), normally required of a person who is under detention in consequence of a lawful order of a court, or of a person during conditional release from such detention;
(ii) Any service of a military character and, in countries where conscientious objection is recognized, any national service required by law of conscientious objectors;
(iii) Any service exacted in cases of emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community;
(iv) Any work or service which forms part of normal civil obligations.
‘Palermo Protocol’ to the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime
Article 3: Use of terms
(a) “Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
(b) The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Elements of Human Trafficking
In addition to the criminalization of trafficking, the Trafficking in Persons Protocol requires criminalization also of:
- Attempts to commit a trafficking offence
- Participation as an accomplice in such an offence
- Organizing or directing others to commit trafficking.
UN, Sustainable Development Goals
Goal 8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all
8.7 Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms.
International Finance Corporation, Performance Standards
22. The client will not employ forced labor, which consists of any work or service not voluntarily performed that is exacted from an individual under threat of force or penalty. This covers any kind of involuntary or compulsory labor, such as indentured labor, bonded labor, or similar labor-contracting arrangements. The client will not employ trafficked persons.
27. Where there is a high risk of child labor or forced labor15 in the primary supply chain, the client will identify those risks consistent with paragraphs 21 and 22 above. If child labor or forced labor cases are identified, the client will take appropriate steps to remedy them. The client will monitor its primary supply chain on an ongoing basis in order to identify any significant changes in its supply chain and if new risks or incidents of child and/or forced labor are identified, the client will take appropriate steps to remedy them.
IFC Guidance Notes
GN71. Clients need to avoid any type of physical or psychological coercion of workers, such as unnecessary restrictions on movement or physical punishment that create a situation whereby the worker feels compelled to work on a non-voluntary basis. Examples of such practices include locking workers in their workplace or worker housing. Clients may not retain worker’s identity documents, such as passports, or personal belongings; such actions may, in effect, amount to a forced labor-like situation. Workers should have access to their personal documents, including government-issued documents such as passports, at all times. Security personnel employed by the client may not be used to force or extract work from workers.
GN72. Clients should avoid practices that have the effect of creating unpayable debt obligations, such as excessive charges for travel, housing and meals as part of the employment relationship. Clients should also exercise diligence with regard to key contractors and subcontractors so that they do not knowingly benefit from practices that lead to bonded or indentured status of workers.
GN73. Clients should clearly recognize and communicate worker’s freedom of movement in employment contracts, including access to personal documents at all times. Contracts need to be provided in the workers’ language and need to be understood by them.
GN74. Trafficked persons and migrant workers who lack legal status in a country may be particularly vulnerable to forced labor situations, for example through debt bondage to “recruiters and brokers” who charge exorbitant fees to place workers. Clients should inquire about and address these issues with contractors who supply labor so that they do not benefit from these coercive practices. Diligence should also be exercised when the client’s project is situated in an export processing zone (EPZ) since EPZs are often exempt from national labor laws or have weak enforcement of such law. Migrant workers, particularly girls and young women, are one of the groups that have been identified as more vulnerable to human trafficking and forced labor. Several institutions are addressing issues of migrant vulnerability, including the ILO and the IOM.
GN75. There are circumstances where prison labor and labor from correctional facilities will be considered to be forced labor. If prisoners are working and a private company benefits, then work will only be acceptable where the prisoners have demonstrably volunteered for the work and they are paid at a rate which is equivalent to the prevailing market rate for that job. If prison labor comprises an important and irreplaceable part of the client’s supply chain, the client should provide a detailed review demonstrating that the proposed prison labor meets the above requirements.
UK, Modern Slavery Act
Section 54: Transparency in supply chains
(1) A commercial organisation within subsection (2) must prepare a slavery and human trafficking statement for each financial year of the organisation. (…)
(4) A slavery and human trafficking statement for a financial year is
(a) a statement of the steps the organisation has taken during the financial year to ensure that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place—
- in any of its supply chains, and
(ii) in any part of its own business, or
(b) a statement that the organisation has taken no such steps.
(5) An organisation’s slavery and human trafficking statement may include information about
- the organisation’s structure, its business and its supply chains;
- its policies in relation to slavery and human trafficking;
- its due diligence processes in relation to slavery and human trafficking in its business and supply chains;
- the parts of its business and supply chains where there is a risk of slavery and human trafficking taking place, and the steps it has taken to assess and manage that risk;
- its effectiveness in ensuring that slavery and human trafficking is not taking place in its business or supply chains, measured against such performance indicators as it considers appropriate;
- the training about slavery and human trafficking available to its staff.
California, Transparency in Supply Chains Act
The disclosure described in subdivision (a) shall, at a minimum, disclose to what extent, if any, that the retail seller or manufacturer does each of the following:
(1) Engages in verification of product supply chains to evaluate and address risks of human trafficking and slavery. The disclosure shall specify if the verification was not conducted by a third party.
(2) Conducts audits of suppliers to evaluate supplier compliance with company standards for trafficking and slavery in supply chains. The disclosure shall specify if the verification was not an independent, unannounced audit.
(3) Requires direct suppliers to certify that materials incorporated into the product comply with the laws regarding slavery and human trafficking of the country or countries in which they are doing business.
(4) Maintains internal accountability standards and procedures for employees or contractors failing to meet company standards regarding slavery and trafficking.
(5) Provides company employees and management, who have direct responsibility for supply chain management, training on human trafficking and slavery, particularly with respect to mitigating risks within the supply chains of products.
WTO, General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade
GATT Article XX: General Exceptions
Subject to the requirement that such measures are not applied in a manner which would constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination between countries where the same conditions prevail, or a disguised restriction on international trade, nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to prevent the adoption or enforcement by any contracting party of measures: (…)
(e) relating to the products of prison labour;
US, Tariff Act
“All goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor or/and indentured labor under penal sanctions shall not be entitled to entry at any of the ports of the United States, and the importation thereof is hereby prohibited, and the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized and directed to prescribe such regulations as may be necessary for the enforcement of this provision.
“Forced labor”, as herein used, shall mean all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty for its nonperformance and for which the worker does not offer himself voluntarily.”
The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 was signed by the President on February 24, 2016. The law repealed the “consumptive demand” clause in 19 U.S.C. § 1307. The clause had allowed importation of certain forced labor-produced goods if the goods were not produced “in such quantities in the United States as to meet the consumptive demands of the United States.” Repeal of the consumptive demand exception should enhance CBP’s ability to prevent products made with forced labor from being imported into the United States.
Know the Chain, Forced Labor Action Compared
In 2016, KnowTheChain benchmarked 60 large global companies from three high-risk sectors (information & communications technology, food & beverage, and apparel & footwear) on the transparency of their efforts to eradicate forced labor from their global supply chains. Each company received a score out of 100 possible points following an evaluation of the company’s public disclosure against seven themes: commitment and governance; traceability and risk assessment; purchasing practices; recruitment; worker voice; monitoring; and remedy.
Good Practice Examples
Seeking support from local NGOs to educate workers
Primark publishes its code of conduct in 39 languages, covering all major languages used at its production facilities. Primark requires its suppliers to display the code in the workplace in all relevant worker languages and to communicate the code to workers. In key sourcing countries, Primark works with local NGOs who facilitate and support groups of factory workers to create a series of posters to “empower […] workers to take ownership of the code”, support peer-to-peer learning, participatory methods, and performance and role-play programs related to the code.
Using technology to engage and empower supply chain workers
As part of its New Ventures pilot, Nike has developed apps to support workers both inside and outside of factories, for example with management communications, pay and leave management, grievance systems, and engagement programs. The pilot reached more than 30,000 workers at 10 footwear and apparel contract factories in three countries. For example, in China, Nike piloted a smartphone service at three factories which provided a direct communication channel between contract factory workers and management and provided workers with direct access to their personal human resources information, including salary, attendance, and annual leave. Workers at one factory reported a 25% improvement in the quality of the worker-management relationship over the course of the nine months’ pilot.
Reimbursing Recruitment Fees Reimbursing recruitment fees
Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct requires that “[w]orkers shall not be required to pay employers’ or their agents’ recruitment fees or other similar fees to obtain their employment. If such fees are found to have been paid by workers, such fees shall be repaid to the worker. Supplier shall ensure that the third-party recruitment agencies it uses are compliant with the provisions of this Code and the law.” Apple discloses that, since 2008, “more than US $25.6 million in excessive recruitment fees have been repaid to foreign contract workers by suppliers as a result of our efforts.”
Cisco has adopted the EICC Code of Conduct, which states that “workers shall not be required to pay employers’ or agents’ recruitment fees or other related fees for their employment and if any such fees are found to have been paid by workers, such fees shall be repaid to the worker.” In 2014, Cisco discovered that factory workers were paying excessive recruitment fees at one of its supplier locations and secured the return of US $251,000 to impacted migrant workers.
Coca-Cola, Modern Slavery Statement
Risks in Agriculture
One potential area of risk for forced labor and human trafficking is agriculture. The Company and local subsidiaries do not typically purchase agricultural ingredients directly from farms, nor does the Company own farms or plantations. But, as a major buyer of agricultural ingredients, such as sugar, the Company strives to ensure human rights are respected across these ingredient supply chains. In 2013, the Company has made a commitment to sustainably source 100% of priority agricultural ingredients, which range from sugarcane to tea to citrus fruits by 2020. To this end, in 2013 the Sustainable Agriculture Guiding Principles (“SAGP”) was published. The SAGP, which build on the Company’s Supplier Guiding Principles, prohibit forced labor and human trafficking.
Additionally, the Company determined to make it a goal to conduct country level studies (or “country studies”) on forced labor, child labor, and land rights looking at a priority crop, sugar, in top markets where sugar is sourced. The studies – which are research efforts, not audits – enable us to better understand the sugar sourcing supply chain and to give visibility on how suppliers and bottling partners are addressing these three risks which are considered higher social risk factors in agricultural supply chains. (…)
These country studies are not an objective in and of themselves. It was expected, setting out that this would be a journey that would require significant collaboration with suppliers, bottlers and key stakeholders to carefully examine human rights risks and to improve efforts to prevent forced labor and human trafficking in the operations and supply chain. These studies were an important tool for facilitating an internal and external conversation on human rights impacts, including the risk of forced labor and human trafficking, deeper in the supply chain.
Another area of identified risk related to forced labor in the value chain is the sponsorship of megasporting events. Mega-sporting events, like the Olympics or World Cup, inspire athletes and fans alike, but have in some instances also been associated with human rights challenges. As sponsors of such events, the Company advocates for transparent and accountable administration that respects the human rights of all those involved – from those building event venues to the athletes themselves. (…) Qatar, the site of an upcoming FIFA World Cup in 2022, has faced concerns about human rights issues, particularly with regards to migrant workers. The Coca-Cola Company has operations in Qatar, including a bottling plant which the Company hopes can be a positive example for responsible business conduct in the region. It is policy that employees retain possession of their passports and identification papers and personal lockers are provided to ensure safe-keeping. Salaries are paid directly to workers’ bank accounts which reduces opportunity for third parties to take deductions from workers’ salaries. Quarterly payroll reviews are conducted by management for contingent workers to ensure adherence to local regulations. Responsible recruitment as well as employee well-being programs like summer hydration practices, first aid and safety training and pro-active attempts to get visas for female workers resulted in The Coca-Cola Bottling Company being named one of the Best Employers within the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) for best recruitment practices and employee engagement in November 2016.
Global Reporting Initiative, Sustainability Reporting Guidelines
The GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (the Guidelines) offer Reporting Principles, Standard Disclosures and an Implementation Manual for the preparation of sustainability reports by organizations, regardless of their size, sector or location.
Forced or Compulsory Labor
Operations and suppliers identified as having significant risk for incidents of forced or compulsory labor, and measures to contribute to the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor
a. Report operations and suppliers considered to have significant risk for incidents of forced or compulsory labor either in terms of:
- Type of operation (such as manufacturing plant) and supplier
- Countries or geographical areas with operations and suppliers considered at risk
b. Report measures taken by the organization in the reporting period intended to contribute to the elimination of all forms of forced or compulsory labor.
Responsible Recruitment Gateway, Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment
The Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment is a collaboration between leading companies and expert organisations to drive positive change in the way that migrant workers are recruited. Together, our aim is bold – the total eradication of fees being charged to workers to secure employment.
The Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment aims to drive positive change in the recruitment industry with three objectives:
- Create Demand for responsible recruitment by raising awareness about the positive benefits of ethical practices and developing tools to help companies implement the Employer Pays Principle
- Increase Supply of ethically sourced labour by creating an enabling environment and supporting the development and implementation of systems to identify and use ethical recruitment agencies
- Advocate for improved protection for migrant workers by brokering dialogue to promote the effective regulation and enforcement of the recruitment industry
The Employer Pays Principle
Reflecting the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity, the Employer Pays Principle is a commitment to ensure that no worker should pay for a job and is increasingly being adopted by companies across a range of industry sectors and locations.
Launched in May 2016, the Employer Pays Principle states that: No worker should pay for a job – the costs of recruitment should be borne not by the worker but by the employer.
Adoption of the Employer Pays Principle across all industries is fundamental to combatting exploitation, forced labour and trafficking of migrant workers in global supply chains and represents an important step in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of decent work for all.
Six Steps to Responsible Recruitment: Implementing the Employer Pays Principle
Step 3: Integrate and act on the risk assessments
- Involve staff whose work raises potential impacts on workers in finding ways to address them.
- Identify ways to share learning across different operating sites / functions / departments about effective prevention and mitigation options.
Prioritise your responses:
- Prioritise responses to assessment findings based on those that will result in the most severe impacts to workers.
- Determine severity according to scale (how grave the impact is), scope (how many workers are affected) and whether it can be effectively remedied.
Understand your responsibility
- A company’s responsibility to act is determined by its involvement in a human rights risk or impact, not its ability to influence a situation.
- Where at risk of causing an impact directly, take the necessary steps to prevent it. For example, require recruitment agents to itemise, including with receipts, all expenses they incur in the recruitment process, and provide workers with receipts for any expenses they incur in their recruitment.
- Where at risk of contributing to an impact, take the necessary steps to avoid that contribution. Use your leverage with the party causing the impact to mitigate any remaining risk. For example, in the absence of ethical recruitment agencies in a country, undertake as much direct recruitment of migrant workers as possible.
- Where at risk of an impact on a migrant worker being directly linked to your company’s operations, products or services through a business relationship, use your leverage with the party at cause to mitigate the risks.
Create and use leverage with business relationships:
- In each situation, think about the many forms leverage can take, whether via traditional commercial leverage, leverage through collective action with business partners and peers, or leverage via bilateral or multi-stakeholder engagement and collaboration with governments, civil society and other stakeholders.
- Initial steps to identify and build leverage could include:
- Build into new supplier agreements the expectation for them to prevent, mitigate and remediate recruitment-related impacts on migrant workers.
- Establish a clear labour cost structure with suppliers and / or recruitment and employment agents.
- Identify key personnel at suppliers responsible for hiring decisions and gauge their willingness and ability to align with the EPP policy.
- Where possible, reduce the number of recruitment agencies with which your supplier engages to enable more effective monitoring and targeting of training resources.
- Consider carefully whether to terminate a relationship where fees and other impacts on migrant workers caused by the third party. It may be beneficial to continue to work within the business relationship to remediate the impacts and build their capacity to meet the Employer Pays Principle in practice.
ILO, Fair Recruitment Initiative
This multi-stakeholder initiative is implemented in close collaboration with governments, representative employers’ and workers’ organizations, the private sector and other key partners. (…) ILO social partners and their affiliates play a central role in the design and implementation of this initiative, including International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) and affiliates, and the International Organisation of Employers (IOE) and affiliates, in particular the World Employment Confederation (WEC).
In today’s globalized economy, workers are increasingly looking for job opportunities beyond their home country in search of decent working conditions. In addition, millions of workers migrate internally. Public and private employment agencies, when appropriately regulated, play an important role in the efficient and equitable functioning of labour markets.
However, concerns have been raised about the growing role of unscrupulous employment agencies, informal labour intermediaries and other operators acting outside the legal and regulatory framework that prey especially on low-skilled workers. Reported abuses involve one or more of the following: deception about the nature and conditions of work; retention of passports; deposits and illegal wage deductions; debt bondage linked to repayment of recruitment fees; threats if workers want to leave their employers, coupled with fears of subsequent expulsion from a country. A combination of these abuses can amount to human trafficking and forced labour. Despite the existence of international labour standards relating to recruitment, national laws and their enforcement often fall short of protecting the rights of workers, and migrant workers in particular.
In response to those challenges, the International Labour Organization (ILO) launched in 2014 a global “Fair Recruitment Initiative” to:
- help prevent human trafficking and forced labour
- protect the rights of workers, including migrant workers, from abusive and fraudulent practices during the recruitment and placement process (including pre-selection, selection, transportation, placement and safe return)
- reduce the cost of labour migration and enhance development outcomes for migrant workers and their families, as well as for countries of origin and destination
Human Rights Watch, Hidden Chains – Forced Labor in Thailand’s Fishing Industry
This report documents forced labor and other human rights abuses in the Thai fishing sector. It identifies poor working conditions, recruitment processes, terms of employment, and industry practices that put already vulnerable migrant workers into abusive situations—and often keep them there. It assesses government efforts to address labor rights violations and other mistreatment of migrant fishers. It also highlights improvements and shortcomings in Thai law and the operational practice of frontline agencies that allow victims of forced labor to fall through gaps in existing prevention and protection frameworks…
Many of the human rights problems in Thailand’s fishing industry are common to migrant workers in sectors throughout Thailand’s economy, whose exploitation is aggravated, and sometimes caused, by the government’s haphazard national policies on labor migration.
In its migration policies, the Thai government has sought to balance negative public attitudes about migration and alleged national security concerns about migrants with strong economic demand for low-cost labor. The result has been contradictory and inconsistent migration policymaking. Its current orientation toward stronger controls and crackdowns on irregular migration have proven ineffective and merely pushed migrants toward more expensive and less safe border crossings, increasing profits for smugglers and traffickers.
ILO, How Policy and Technology Can Impact Work in the Fishing Industry
In 2014, international media reports detailed extensive labour abuses in Thailand’s fishing industry. In the same year, the U.S. State Department, in its Human Trafficking Report, downgraded Thailand to the bottom rung: Tier 3. In 2015, the European Commission (EC) issued Thailand a “yellow card” for illegal, unregistered, and unregulated (IUU) fishing practices.
With the threat of sanctions against its fishing industry a possibility, Thailand proceeded to implement measures aimed at reducing and eliminating abuses in the fishing and seafood sectors, and to conform with the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Work in Fishing Convention (No. 188, 2007). In January 2019, Thailand ratified the Work in Fishing Convention (No. 188, 2007), and became the first country in Asia to ratify the Convention, strengthening minimum labour standards for fishers employed on vessels at sea.
These measures have met with some success. In June 2018, the U.S. State Department upgraded Thailand in its human trafficking report from a “watch list” to Tier 2, and in 2019, the EC lifted the yellow card after judging that Thailand had successfully addressed gaps in its fisheries legal framework and its monitoring and surveillance systems. (…)
The Thai government encoded these standards and more in the Protection of Labourers in Fishing Act, which came into force in November 2019. Some measures were already part of Thai labour laws, such as minimum working age, medical insurance, maximum working hours and rest periods, written work agreement, regular pay (via bank account transfer for fishers), safety equipment for work, and compensation for work-related deaths or injuries. New measures in the Act include annual health check-ups, repatriation from a foreign port to Thailand, and social security-type benefits.
Understanding Employer Demands for Labour
For the employers interviewed for this report, five key elements were said to influence their demands for migrant workers.
- A perceived labour deficit in the fishing sector;
- Cost of wages;
- Necessity of paying advances to employees;
- Costs associated with compliance; and
- Costs of capital investment.
Conclusions and Recommendations
1. The Thai fishing industry fleet has failed in the aggregate to invest in labour-saving technologies. This puts more pressure on an already dysfunctional labour market.
The Thai commercial fishing fleet is overdue for modernisation to improve labour-, energy-, and cost-efficiency. Modest investments in power-hauling equipment reduce the size of fishing crews and thereby help bring the labour market into balance. In other sectors, reducing the workforce can produce conflict between workers and employers — and their representative organisations — but the fishing industry, with poor working conditions and low wages, will continue to face chronic labour shortages. Long-term solutions that reduce demand for new workers, and improve working conditions and wages can satisfy in the aggregate both workers and vessel owners.
2. There is a lack of financial credit to the fishing industry. Lenders want guarantees to re-enter an inherently risky industry.
Thai commercial bank lending to vessel owners has fallen to near zero with the global exposure of labour abuses in Thai fishing and the subsequent uncertainty in the industry. A programme of reconfiguration will prompt threshold questions from vessel owners: “Who will lend me the money?” and “What will happen if I cannot pay it back?” Commercial lenders will ask, “Which institutions will guarantee loans to qualified borrowers?” and “Will the proposed lending programme be big enough to make development and marketing of a new lending product for vessels worthwhile for the bank?”
3. There is a wide-ranging absence of high-quality information.
The interviews conducted for this report all pointed to the need for more effective, regular, and public communication between governments (both Thai and foreign), vessel owners, recruitment agents, and migrant workers. (…)
Jokinen & Ollus, Exploitation of Migrant Workers
Labour trafficking – or trafficking for the purposes of forced labour – seems to be on the increase globally (…). The increasingly mobile work force, freedom of movement within the European Union and the global economic disparities, act as driving factors for high levels of migrants who, without adequate protection from illegal recruitment practices and the abuse by unscrupulous employers, risk becoming victims of trafficking. In many labour intensive sectors, migrant labour is considered a cheap alternative to domestic labour. Employers may look for cost-saving measures by re-organising the division of labour, e.g. through increasing the use of temporary and part-time contracts, and by demanding increased flexibility from the workers. Problems occur when this creates an unequal labour market, where those most vulnerable have to accept work on any terms. At worst, migrant workers may become victims of trafficking for forced labour.
Trafficking for forced labour can be regarded as the most severe form of exploitation, while more subtle forms of coercion represent less serious forms of exploitation. These less serious forms of exploitation can lead up to more serious acts and create conditions where trafficking for forced labour may take place. We argue that trafficking for forced labour takes place precisely in this context of exploitation of migrant labour in general. Therefore, in order for us to uncover and understand labour trafficking, we must scrutinize the broader context of exploitation of migrant workers. (…) Forced labour does not necessarily entail trafficking. Forced labour may exist without trafficking, but many jurisdictions require that for the crime of labour trafficking to be fulfilled, there must be exploitation that amounts to forced labour (or equivalent exploitation). Trafficking for forced labour hence exists where trafficking in human beings and forced labour overlap. Overall, both crimes can be seen to take place in the context of exploitation of (mainly migrant) labour.
Indicators of forced labour include physical or sexual violence or the threat of such violence, restriction of movement of the worker, debt bondage or bonded labour, withholding wages or refusing to pay the worker at all, retention of passports and identity documents, and the threat of denunciation to the authorities. In addition, trafficking in human beings can be analysed also based on whether forms of deception or coercion were used during recruitment or transportation, whether the recruitment took place by abusing the person’s vulnerability, whether exploitative conditions prevailed at work, and whether coercion or abuse of the vulnerability of the migrant worker occurred at destination.
Trafficking for forced labour and labour exploitation in Sweden: Examples from the Restaurant and the Berry Industries
Among the workers who have entered Sweden within the framework of the new policy, the situation of seasonal berry-pickers from Asian and East European countries, in particular, has been emphasized for the exploitative conditions faced by the workers. Forms of abuse include the non-payment of wages or very low wages, excessive working days and various forms of coercion such as physical force and threats. The restaurant industry, which also employs a high number of low-skilled migrant workers, is characterized by similar working conditions of low wages and long working hours. (…)
The report highlights a number of challenges in preventing and combating migrant labour exploitation.
A first challenge stems from Swedish labour immigration policy, according to which work permits for non-EU citizens are tied to the employers. That is, labour immigrants must remain with the same employer during the first two years, or find a new employer within three months, and in the same occupation during the first four years, or else they can be deported from Sweden. Arguably, this requirement places the employees in a situation of dependency towards their employer. Workers who are exploited by unscrupulous employers may be reluctant to complain for fear of losing their employment and thereby their right of residence in Sweden.
The second challenge stems from the fact that many migrants who are subject to exploitation do not always consider themselves to be victims. Working in
Sweden often represents an opportunity to escape poor economic circumstances and improve the living standard of themselves and their families. Therefore, many labour immigrants are willing to accept poorer working conditions than those enjoyed by the local population.
A third challenge relates to the lack of experience in regard to trafficking for forced labour in Sweden. The police, prosecutors and judges in Sweden may fail to detect cases of forced labour due to a lack of knowledge about the crime. Additionally, the concept of forced labour is rather complex – the distinction between a voluntary and a forced employment situation is difficult to define – and the legislation lacks a clear definition. The low number of convictions for trafficking for forced labour in Sweden may also be a result of the courts’ tendency to compare the working conditions of the victims with the prevailing conditions in the home country, considering that they do not experience worse conditions in Sweden than those they had at home.
A fourth challenge, related to the berry industry, highlights the lack of accountability of the various economic actors involved. Unregulated workers from Europe are considered to be self-employed and ‘free movers’, and regulated workers from Asia are formally employed by Asian recruitment agencies, leading to a situation where the actors in Sweden – berry buyers and merchants – do not need to assume the full responsibility for the pickers’ labour conditions.
Raj-Reichert, The Powers of a Social Auditor in a Global Production Network
The Verite´ report (2014) was damning and posed risks to industry for three reasons. First, the report concluded over a quarter of electronics workers, the majority foreign workers, in Malaysia to be in situations of forced labour. Investigations comprising undercover interviews with 501 workers (87% foreign workers) in over 100 factories throughout Malaysia found 28% of all workers (32% among foreign workers) in forced labour. Using guidelines set by the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the report focused on six aspects of forced labour: (1) high recruitment fees resulting in debt bondage through over-time work and wage deductions; (2) withholding foreign worker passports by labour agents; (3) restricting movement and instituting fear and insecurity by employers; (4) prohibiting foreign workers from breaking employment contracts, changing employers or returning home before the end of their contracts; (5) deceptive recruitment on wages or type of work and (6) excessive dependency by foreign workers on labour agents for housing, medical care, food, transport, legal status, employment status and other welfare issues. Although the names of firms, their factory locations or the outsourcing firms to suppliers were not revealed, because forced labour was found to be ‘widespread’ and in different locations, factory sizes and production lines of goods and components, the findings casted a wide net implicating many types of firms from brands to first and lower tier suppliers operating directly or outsourcing in Malaysia. ‘What was most shocking to us was that this was happening in modern facilities, some of which were owned and operated by major international brands. This work has led us to conclude that forced labour in this industry is systemic and that every company operating in this sector in Malaysia faces a high risk of forced labour in their operations.’
The Verite´ report was the most comprehensive on the details of forced labour in the electronics industry thus far. Before the report forced labour was rarely publicly associated with the electronics industry. It was more often reported in lower value added or lower cost industries, such as agriculture, fishing, domestic work, mining and garments. Verite´’s report, however, showed forced labour occurring in a high value added and technologically advanced industry. It was not hidden away but occurred in sprawling modern EPZs in a middle-income country where hi-tech factories, surrounded by electronic gates, barbed-wires, metal detectors and security guards were monitored and audited multiple times a year by social auditors and government agencies. (…)
Verite´, whose exposure of forced labour in Malaysian electronics subsequently changed labour governance practices in the electronics industry, mobilised power resources of credible information to exercise powers of expert authority and acts of dissimulation across various networked relationships in the GPN [global production networks]. This paper puts forth a multi-power framework of analysis to understand the micro-politics of GPNs. (…)
Verite´ straddles a hybrid SAO [social auditing organisations] profile of firm and extra-firm characteristics which contributes to its ability to hold different types of relationships in the GPN, harness different power resources and exercise different modes of relational power. It is emphasised that actors in GPNs have multiple relationships and therefore need to be understood for their interactions and outcomes, through conflicts, tensions and cooperation, to reveal the micro-politics of GPNs. Thus, the second contribution is a multi-power analysis which examined overt and covert modes of power across Verite´’s different sets of networked relationships—namely the powers of expert authority and dissimulation—which brought about changes to labour governance practices by industry actors. Verite´ did so by mobilising power resources of credible information on forced labour in factories through its subcontractor relationships with local auditors. Its various subcontracted ties to the US federal government to investigate working conditions in Malaysian electronics and advising on forthcoming regulatory amendments aimed at banning forced labour in federal supply chains gave Verite´ the power resource of legitimacy. Both power resources were necessary for exercising the power of expert authority over the electronics industry’s conduct of self-governing practices. More covertly, Verite´ simultaneously exercised acts of dissimulation through its confidential client–auditor relationships with global lead firms for access to factory workers in order to gain credible information on working conditions through its investigations.
Hence, its hybrid profile helped Verite´ gain legitimacy and credibility as an NGO and a quasi-state actor (extra-firm actor characteristics) while its business client relationships as an auditor (firm actor characteristics) is tied to its exercise of power vis-a`-vis global lead firms and the RBA. The case study illustrates how powers to change practices in a GPN can be a complex process involving different resources of power and the simultaneous exercise of different modes of relational power across varying sets of relationships.
Davidson, New Slavery and Human Trafficking
For almost a decade now, politicians, journalists, NGO workers and even some academics have been telling us that human trafficking is a vastly profitable global criminal business that claims millions of victims at any given moment in time, and that represents one of the most serious human rights problem in the contemporary world. ‘Trafficking’ is commonly described as a modern slave trade, and anti-trafficking campaigners call on us to restate our opposition to slavery and reaffirm our commitment to the defence of human rights and freedom. These are rousing and apparently politically progressive calls. Yet, as a number of critical scholars and activists have noted, the figure of the ‘trafficking victim’, especially of the ‘trafficked sex slave’ has actually been worked to most effect in the service of extremely conservative moral agendas on prostitution, gender and sexuality and in support of more restrictive immigration policies and tighter border controls (…).
(…) problems arises from the fact that ‘trafficking’, like slavery, is a concept that requires us to think in terms of ‘inappropriate’ exploitation and of ‘force’. And, as Moravcsik points out in relation to slavery, these are slippery notions: ‘What constitutes inappropriate economic exploitation depends partly on what alternatives were or could have been envisaged within a given situation … [and similarly] what counts as force … and what restrictions any society might have to invoke under certain circumstances are left to be determined in context.’
‘Trafficking’ is an umbrella term for a process that can lead to a variety of outcomes. In theory, it intersects with an array of other markets, institutions and practices (labour markets, prostitution, marriage, benefit fraud, organ trading, child adoption, independent child migration to name but a few), some of which may be socially tolerated and legally regulated, others of which may be illegal, stigmatized and/or socially contested. To ring fence ‘trafficking’ would therefore require us to make a judgement about what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate exploitation, and what counts as force, in a huge number of vastly different contexts. Throw in the fact that social norms pertaining to these markets, institutions and practices differ from country to country, and the task looks even more hopeless.
The enormity of these problems can be illustrated by looking at one of the possible outcomes of ‘trafficking’ listed in the protocol, namely slavery. In a world where slavery is nowhere legally recognized, so that nobody is actually formally assigned the legal status of slave, what is slavery and who is a slave? Anti-slavery activists who have played an important role in promulgating the ‘trafficking as modern slavery’ discourse, hold that new slavery can be distinguished from other forms of oppression and labour exploitation that are widespread in the contemporary world through reference to its three essential elements. First, is its involuntary nature, in the sense that the slave cannot ‘walk away from the situation they’re in and someone’s controlling their free will’. Second, is ‘severe economic exploitation’, which Bales describes as the absence of a wage, or payment of wages in a form that either covers only the most basic necessities for daily survival, or that can be clawed back by the employer. Third, there is violence or the prospect of violence. (…)
Talk of ‘trafficking as modern slavery’ generates an illusion of political consensus, for nobody is in favour of slavery. Indeed, ‘the fight against slavery is one of the very few human rights imperatives that attracts no principled dissent’. Yet, if ‘modern slavery’ does not exist as a legal status or a prior category, but must be defined instead through reference to judgements about where, on a continuum and in different contexts, ‘appropriate’ exploitation ends and ‘inappropriate’ exploitation begins, then it is in reality a hugely contentious and highly political concept. (…) A political space, in Rancière’s terms, opens up and with it the potential for political alliances between those (both migrant and non-migrant) who share an interest in transforming existing social and legal constructions of ‘freedom’ and ‘restriction’. Because discourse on ‘trafficking as modern slavery’ defuses this potential, deconstructing it is an urgent political task.
Parliamentary Institute of Policy, Migration, Trafficking & Sexual Exploitation
All provinces in Cambodia are sources of human trafficking as reported by previous studies and happens both inside and outside Cambodia. Trafficking within Cambodia is often for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation in respect of which young women have been transported to work in brothels, massage parlors or karaoke bars in some urban cities such as Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Poipet, Koh Kong or Siem Reap. Sexual exploitation of street children, especially by tourists, has also been reported. The data of NCCT [National Committee for Counter Trafficking in Persons] in 2016 showed that 524 businesses operating in Cambodia, had been targeted, of which 71 were convicted of human and sexual trafficking.
Human trafficking outside of Cambodia is often in the form of: i) trafficking for marriage; ii) forced labor on fishing vessels and domestic work; and iii) forced begging.
Trafficking for marriage: Trafficking for marriage has happened to some Cambodian women who entered into a brokered marriage with Chinese, Korean or Taiwanese men. These women have sought a better life by marrying foreign men, but they have ended up being abused by their husbands or families-in-law and, in the worst scenario, they have been forced into prostitution. Some women have been promised a factory job, but have been deceived and forced into marriage against their will. In 2016, Chinese authorities reported that about 7,000 Cambodian women had been married to Chinese men, but only 100 were reported to have done so legally. The report of NCCT showed there were 1,541 legal marriages between Cambodians and foreigners in 2016.
Forced labor on fishing vessels: Forced labor has become worse for migrant workers who are engaged in the fishing industry in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Somalia, Vietnam and Taiwan. These migrant workers can be forced to work from 16 to 18 hours a day on fishing vessels with no way of escape. (…) According to the ILO Bangkok, from June to October 2014, more than 22,000 Cambodians had registered to work in the fishing industry in Thailand.
Forced domestic labor: Forced domestic labor is another crime. Cambodian workers were reported to have been trafficked to Malaysia, the Middle East and Singapore to work as nannies, maids and carers. Even though they received pay three times higher than in Cambodia, these migrant workers suffered serious abuse, and were often reported to have mental problems upon returning home. In 2015, 8,000 Cambodian domestic workers were working in Malaysia.
Forced begging: Cambodian children are reported to be trafficked for begging in neighboring countries like Thailand and Vietnam. In 2014, about 80 percent of child beggars in Thailand were Cambodian.
Trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation: Women used to be considered as the sole victims in the sex industry, but recently boys and young men have also fallen into the victim category. Street children, especially boys, are often identified as the victims of sexual abuse by foreign nationals. Young Vietnamese girls have also been reported to be trafficked to brothels in Cambodia. The data of NCCT showed that 298 victims of sex trafficking were rescued in Cambodia in 2016 and children and minors were among those victims.
NCCT, Guidelines for Identification of Victims of Human Trafficking
Why does a victim of human trafficking and sexual exploitation hesitate to be identified?
(…) In some other cases, the perpetrators may be those who have a close relationship with the victim such as relatives, friends, romantic partners or persons who have authority over them. Victims often feel ashamed (…) Some of the victims committed crimes in the process of being trafficked, which makes them worried about potential punishment or prosecution for such offences. Victims are often concerned about their safety and potential further loss if they have to be involved in the official complaint and prosecution process. This process requires money and time with little hope of successful prosecution and/or compensation for victims. (…) Consequently, most of the victims request only emergency assistance or rehabilitation or safe living options rather than filing complaints against the perpetrators and other accomplices. (…)
Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia
Article 36: Khmer citizens of both sexes have the right to choose any employment according to their ability and to the needs of the society. (…)
Article 46: Human trafficking, exploitation of prostitution and obscenities which affect the dignity of women shall be prohibited. (…)
Article 1: This law governs relations between employers and workers resulting from employment contracts to be performed within the territory of the Kingdom of Cambodia…
Article 15: Forced or compulsory labor is absolutely forbidden in conformity with the International Convention No. 29 on the forced or compulsory labor, adopted on June 28, 1930 by the International Labor Organization and ratified by the Kingdom of Cambodia on February 24, 1969. This article applies to everyone, including domestics or household servants and all workers in agricultural enterprises or businesses.
Article 16: Hiring of people for work to pay off debts is forbidden.
Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation
Article 1: Objective of this Law
The objective of this law is to suppress the acts of human trafficking and sexual exploitation in order to protect the rights and dignity of human beings, to improve the health and welfare of citizens, to preserve and enhance good national customs, and to implement the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress, and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, or other international instruments or agreements with regard to human trafficking that the Kingdom of Cambodia has ratified or signed.
Article 4: Criminal Responsibility
(…) An accomplice and instigator of the felonies or misdemeanors stipulated in this law shall be punished and liable to the same punishment as a principal who commits it.
An accomplice and instigator shall include, but not be limited to the form of organizing or directing another to commit any of the felonies or misdemeanors stipulated in this law.
When a representative, agent, or employee for a legal entity or a principal commits any offense stipulated in this law in the scope of its business, or in the interest of the legal entity or the principal, the legal entity or the principal shall be punished with fine and additional penalties in accordance with the punishment stipulated in the relevant article.
MOU between Cambodia and Thailand on Cooperation for Eliminating Trafficking
Article 5: The Parties shall undertake educational and vocational training programs, in particular for children and women, to increase the opportunity for employment and hence reduce vulnerability to trafficking.
Article 6: The Parties shall make best effort to prevent trafficking in children and women through the following preventive measures:
- Increase of social services such as assistance in job searching and income generating and provision of medical care to children and women vulnerable to trafficking;
- Reform of educational and vocational training programs to improve their linkage with job opportunities;
- Enhancement of public awareness and understanding on the issue of trafficking in children and women; and
- Dissemination of information to the public on the risk factors involved in trafficking of children and women and on the businesses that are exploitative to children and women.
Article 9: The relevant governmental agencies where appropriate, in cooperation with non-government organizations, shall provide trafficked children, women and their immediate family, if any, with safe shelter, health care, access to legal assistance, and other imperative for their protection.
Article 10: The law enforcement agencies of both countries, especially at the border, shall work in close cooperation to uncover domestic and cross border trafficking of children and women.
US Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report
Cambodia: Tier 2 Watch List
The Government of Cambodia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. These efforts included continuing to prosecute and convict traffickers; establishing a new five-year action plan to combat trafficking; and developing and utilizing new victim identification and data collection technologies. However, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. Authorities did not improve insufficient efforts to collect or share key information on law enforcement efforts. Corruption continued to impede law enforcement operations, criminal proceedings, and victim service provision. Amid insufficient government oversight and accountability measures, authorities did not investigate credible reports of official complicity with unscrupulous business owners who subjected thousands of men, women, and children throughout the country to human trafficking in entertainment establishments and in brick kilns. (…)
Prioritized Recommendations: (…)
- Amend regulations on labor recruitment licensure and contract requirements to include strengthened language on worker protections and labor rights.
- Strengthen efforts to inspect private labor recruitment agencies and their sub-licensed brokers for fraudulent recruitment and other trafficking indicators.
- Increase public awareness on proper travel document application procedures to facilitate safe, legal migration. (…)
The Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MOLVT) maintained a separate action plan aimed at reducing child labor and debt bondage in the service, agricultural, mining, and energy sectors by 2025 through awareness raising, legal action, and collaboration with civil society funded in part through the national budget. There was no ban on the imposition of worker-paid recruitment or placement fees. Observers noted the high costs, complex administrative requirements, and restrictive provisions inherent to the formal migration process drove a majority of Cambodian labor migrants to pursue informal pathways to working abroad. (…) Officials and NGO observers noted labor officials’ insufficient inspections of private recruitment agencies, and the ability of these agencies to sub-license their names to independent brokers, continued to perpetuate widespread labor exploitation. (…)
As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit Cambodian men, women, and children in forced labor and sex trafficking in Cambodia and abroad. They also subject victims from other countries to trafficking in Cambodia, and they use Cambodia as a transit point to exploit victims from other countries to trafficking elsewhere in Asia. Cambodian adults and children migrate to other countries within the region and increasingly to the Middle East for work; traffickers force many to work on fishing vessels, in agriculture, in construction, in factories, and in domestic servitude—often through debt-based coercion—or exploit them in sex trafficking. Migrants using irregular migration channels, predominantly with the assistance of unlicensed brokers, are at an increased risk of trafficking, although those using licensed recruiting agents also become victims of forced labor or sex trafficking. Companies operating under the auspices of the Japanese government’s “Technical Intern Training Program” have exploited Cambodian nationals in forced labor in food processing, manufacturing, construction, and fishing. (…)
Traffickers continue to recruit significant numbers of Cambodian men and boys in Thailand to work on fishing boats and exploit them in forced labor on Thai-owned and -operated vessels in international waters. Cambodian victims escaping from their traffickers have been identified in Malaysia, Indonesia, Mauritius, Fiji, Senegal, South Africa, and Papua New Guinea. (…) Traffickers recruit a significant number of women from rural areas under false pretenses to travel to China to enter into marriages with Chinese men. [The] men force some of these women to work in factories or exploit them in sex trafficking to repay [debts]. Cambodian women serving willingly as illegal surrogates for Chinese families are vulnerable to confinement and domestic servitude. (…)
Nestle, Responsible Sourcing of Seafood at Nestle
In 2015, Nestlé launched a Thailand Action Plan for the Responsible Sourcing of Seafood, detailing our commitment to eliminating labor and human rights abuses in the seafood supply chain in Thailand. This was developed based on an assessment of recruitment practices and migrant labor conditions in our Thai seafood supply chain carried out by our implementation partner, Verité, on our behalf. (…)
In working on labor rights abuses in our supply chains, we have found that such abuses can only be solved by addressing unethical recruitment practices. A key focus of our strategy therefore is on the responsible recruitment of workers throughout our seafood supply chain. We expect that workers in our supply chains are recruited responsibly, meaning that they do not pay for a job, are not indebted or coerced to work, and have freedom of movement. As of 2018, all of our Thai seafood suppliers implemented responsible recruitment initiatives. (…)
At the end of 2018 and beginning of 2019, Verité conducted two multi-stakeholder consultations with 23 individuals from civil society, local government, and the Association of Cambodian Recruitment Agencies (ACRA) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to improve the migrant workers’ recruitment practices. (…)
In 2019, an action plan was developed including capacity building on ethical recruitment for commune leaders, NGOs and the Cambodia Anti-Trafficking Commission; training for NGOs on how to document labor risks among vulnerable populations; cooperation building on disseminating information and accessing grievance mechanism(s) between Thai and Cambodian NGOs, and other relevant stakeholders, and increasing the capacity of NGOs to monitor compliance of Private Employment Agencies to their Code of Conduct.
In 2019, Nestlé also initiated a partnership with the Fair Hiring Initiative, Inc. (TFHI), to conduct capacity building for ethical and fair recruitment for agencies and employers who are enrolled in TFHI’s ‘On The Level’ certification program pilot. The aim of this partnership is to increase the number of responsible recruitment agents and therefore responsibly recruited workers in the industry.
Thai Union, Transparency Statement under UK Modern Slavery Act
This statement is written in compliance with the requirements under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015, with particular reference to Section 54 Transparency in Supply Chains. The purpose of this statement is to describe efforts by Thai Union Group PCL (Thai Union) to prevent, detect, and remedy violations of human rights, particularly modern slavery and forced labor within our operations and supply chains. The statement covers periods up to 31 May 2019. (…)
1. About Thai Union
Thai Union Group PCL (Thai Union) … is regarded as the world’s largest producer of shelf-stable tuna products with annual sales exceeding THB 133.3 billion (US$ 4.1 billion) and a global workforce of over 47,000 people (…)
2. Thai Union’s Supply Chains
Seafood supply chains are complex, particularly where multiple species are involved. Thai Union is a processor. Globally, we do not own fishing vessels and own a very small number of aquaculture farms. Seafood raw materials are therefore sourced from suppliers from oceans and aquaculture operations around the world (…)
3. Thai Union’s Commitment on Human Rights and Sustainability
Thai Union’s mission is to be a seafood industry’s leading agent of change, making a real positive difference to our consumers, our customers and the way the category is managed. … [We] are taking a leading role in tackling human & labor rights abuses, including modern slavery and human trafficking within the seafood industry in Thailand and globally. (…)
5. Policies on Modern Slavery, Human Trafficking, and Human Rights
5.1 Human Rights Policy
Launched in 2018, the policy states the commitment to use our commercial leverage and leadership role to address human rights issues not in our value chain but also in the wider global seafood industry. In line with the previously issued Business Ethics and Labor Code of Conduct, the Human Rights Policy reiterates our commitment to respect universal human rights, as those expressed in the International Bill of Human Rights and the principles concerning fundamental rights set out in the International Labour Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.
5.2) Business Ethics and Labor Code of Conduct (CoC)
Launched in 2015, the Business Ethics and Labor Code of Conduct (CoC) embodies our commitment to conduct business with integrity, openness, and respect for universal human rights and core labor principles throughout our operations. The CoC is based on 12 Fundamental Principles grounded in internationally recognized standards. The Code is applicable to all Thai Union employees, suppliers, and any sub-suppliers employed by primary suppliers in business with Thai Union. In particular, the Code states:
- All laws and regulations are complied with in the countries in which the supplier operates.
- Forced labor, whether in the form of indentured labor, bonded labor or other forms, is not acceptable. Mental and physical coercion, slavery and human trafficking are prohibited. (…)
5.3) Vessel Code of Conduct (VCoC) & Vessel Improvement Program (VIP)
To further mitigate the risks, including forced labor and modern slavery on the supplying vessels, we introduced the Vessel Code of Conduct (VCoC) in December 2017. … This code will be applicable to vessels from which Thai Union sources around the world. The VCoC must be signed by suppliers before we enter into a business relationship and by all of our existing suppliers. (…)
5.6 Ethical Migrant Recruitment Policy
Migration and recruitment of migrant workers is recognized as one of the highest risk areas for workers to become involved in human trafficking, forced labor or debt bondage. Thai Union’s migrant workforce in Thailand is primarily composed of workers from Myanmar and Cambodia. Recognizing this, Thai Union has focused on reducing the potential for abuse and extortion by agents and brokers in recruitment of migrant workers. (…)
Liberty Global Asia, Compensating Trafficking Victims in Thailand and Cambodia
(…) The full extent of human trafficking in Cambodia is unknown because few reliable statistics are available. Cambodia has a population of over 16 million with a young labour force.(…) It is a destination for many trafficked Vietnamese women and children, a source for countries such as Thailand, Malaysia, China, Indonesia and South Africa and internal trafficking within Cambodia also takes place from rural to urban areas.(…) The Global Slavery Index 2018 estimated the number of victims of modern slavery in Cambodia to be 261,000.(…)
The lack of data and information sharing means it is difficult to fully assess where Cambodia stands in relation to prosecution and protection of victims of trafficking. Data from civil society continues to indicate serious and systemic flaws in the criminal justice system resulting in a low number of convictions and lack of payment of compensation awards. The reasons for this vary but amongst the most significant factors are the high numbers of cases settled out of court, lack of faith in the judicial system, hesitancy by victims to initiate or cooperate with court proceedings due to social stigma, and lengthy court proceedings.
UNODC, Human Trafficking from Cambodia, Lao PDR and Myanmar to Thailand
2.6.3 Legal and semi-legal operators
In the context of smuggling and trafficking operations from Cambodia to Thailand, it is often difficult to differentiate between criminal operators and individuals and businesses that offer legal or semilegal services. This is particularly the case with labour hire agencies and recruitment agents, which play an important role in facilitating both regular and irregular migration from Cambodia to Thailand.
Although Cambodia has instituted a licensing system that authorises private businesses to recruit Cambodian workers for Thai employers, some service providers do not fully comply with regulatory requirements. Others operate completely outside the licensing system. But even when labour recruitment agents operate within the legal framework, it is not uncommon for Cambodian workers who use official channels to end up in trafficking situations once they reach Thailand. (…)
2.6.4 Persons aiding and facilitating smugglers and traffickers
Corrupt officials: The corruption of border guards, police and other officials plays a vital part in enabling and facilitating irregular migration from Cambodia to Thailand. Allegations of the involvement of corrupt individuals in trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants are long-standing. Some sources suggest that trafficking in persons, especially trafficking in women and children, could not occur with the ease and on the scale it does without corruption.
Travel agents, carriers, et cetera: Smuggling of migrants and trafficking in persons from Cambodia to Thailand involve a range of individuals and businesses that may not be directly connected to the perpetrators and their networks but offer specialised services needed to transport migrants, transfer funds or otherwise facilitate irregular migration. These may include travel agencies, bus and transport companies, taxis and drivers, other transport providers, hoteliers and other accommodation providers, as well as financial institutions and agents used to transfer money. Using informal agents appears to be particularly common for remittance transfers.
Urbina, ‘Sea Slaves’: The Human Misery That Feeds Pets and Livestock
Lang Long’s ordeal began in the back of a truck. After watching his younger siblings go hungry because their family’s rice patch in Cambodia could not provide for everyone, he accepted a trafficker’s offer to travel across the Thai border for a construction job. (…) But when he arrived, Mr. Long was kept for days by armed men in a room near the port at Samut Prakan, more than a dozen miles southeast of Bangkok. He was then herded with six other migrants up a gangway onto a shoddy wooden ship. It was the start of three brutal years in captivity at sea.
The misery endured by Mr. Long … is not uncommon in the maritime world. … In interviews, those who fled recounted horrific violence: the sick cast overboard, the defiant beheaded, the insubordinate sealed for days below deck in a dark, fetid fishing hold. (…)
While forced labor exists throughout the world, nowhere is the problem more pronounced than here in the South China Sea, especially in the Thai fishing fleet, which faces an annual shortage of about 50,000 mariners, based on United Nations estimates. The shortfall is primarily filled by using migrants, mostly from Cambodia & Myanmar. Many of them, like Mr. Long, are lured across the border by traffickers only to become so-called sea slaves in floating labor camps. (…)
Supply and Demand
The boat that delivered Mr. Long to captivity and subsequently rescued him was known as a “mothership.” Carrying everything from fuel and extra food to spare nets and replacement labor, these lumbering vessels, often over a hundred feet long, function as the roving resupply stores of the marine world. Motherships are the reason that slow-moving trawlers can fish more than 1,500 miles from land. They allow fishermen to stay out at sea for months or years and still get their catch cleaned, canned and shipped to American shelves less than a week after netting.
But once a load of fish is transferred to a mothership, which keeps the cargo below deck in cavernous refrigerators, there is almost no way for port-side authorities to determine its provenance. It becomes virtually impossible to know whether it was caught legally by paid fishermen or poached illegally by shackled migrants.
Bar codes on pet food in some European countries enable far-flung consumers to track Thai-exported seafood to its onshore processing facilities, where it was canned or otherwise packaged. But the supply chain for the 28 million tons of forage fish caught annually around the globe, about a third of all fish caught at sea and much of it used for pet and animal feed, is invisible before that.
Sasinan Allmand, the head of corporate communications for Thai Union Frozen Products, said that her company does routine audits of its canneries and boats in port to ensure against forced and child labor. The audits involve checking crew members’ contracts, passports, proof of payment and working conditions. “We will not tolerate any human trafficking or any human rights violation of any kind,” she said. Asked whether audits are conducted on the fishing boats that stay at sea, like the one where Mr. Long was captive, she declined to respond.
Human rights advocates have called for a variety of measures to provide greater oversight, including requiring all commercial fishing ships to have electronic transponders for onshore monitoring and banning the system of long stays at sea and the supply ships that make them possible. But their efforts have gotten little traction. (…)
Some pet food companies are trying to move away from using fish. Mars Inc., for example, which sold more than $16 billion worth of pet food globally in 2012, roughly a quarter of the world’s market, has already replaced fishmeal in some of its pet food and will continue in that direction. By 2020, the company plans to use only non-threatened fish caught legally or raised on farms and certified by third-party auditors as not being linked to forced labor. Though Mars has been more proactive on these issues than many of its competitors, Allyson Park, a Mars spokeswoman, conceded that the fishing industry has “real traceability issues” and struggles to ensure proper working conditions. This is even more challenging, she said, since Mars does not purchase fish directly from docks but further up the supply chain. Over the past year, Mars received more than 90,000 cartons of cat and dog food from the cannery supplied by one of the boats where Lang Long was held captive, according to the Customs documents.
Zimmerman et al, Health and Human Trafficking in the Mekong Sub-Region
In Cambodia, the main government agencies responsible for the referral and protection of victims are the Ministry of Interior and the Department of Anti-Trafficking and Juvenile Protection (whose main role is to interview victims, conduct investigations and provide protection), and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth, which provides direct assistance and reintegration, family tracing for unaccompanied minors and vocational training). Other government agencies involved are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and relevant embassies and consulates overseas who work with local authorities and international agencies in destination countries to identify and repatriate Cambodian victims of trafficking.
Awareness of trafficking: Over the past decade, significant resources have been invested in “awareness raising” to prevent human trafficking. Participants were asked: “Before you left home, had you ever heard about “human trafficking?” Less than half (44.1%) of all participants (from the various countries of origin) reported that they had previously heard about “trafficking.” Thailand was the country with the highest proportion of nationals who had heard about trafficking (65.4%), followed by Cambodia (46.2%), the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (39.7%), Viet Nam (38.9%) and Myanmar (32.8%). (…)
Reasons for leaving home: People often have multiple reasons for migrating for work (…) Participants were asked (…) The most common reasons cited were that “I didn’t earn enough money in my job” (42.5%), “I know others who left and earned money” (37.9%), and “I could not find a job nearby” (23.8%). Thirty-five participants (3.2%, n=35 of 1102) reported: “I was abducted.” Nineteen of the 35 were under 18 years old, and 27 of the 35 were female.
Recruitment: Participants were asked, “Who do you think is responsible for getting you into the trafficking situation?” and were invited to offer more than one answer. Just over half (50.7%) stated that they themselves were responsible. When participants implicated others, “brokers” or recruitment agents (33.9%) were most commonly cited.
Of the 420 participants who offered more than one response, participants were most likely to name themselves (65.7%, n=276 of 420) and a broker (52.6%, n=221 of 420) as the individuals who were primarily responsible for the trafficking. (…)
- What is the difference between forced labour and human trafficking? What is the relation between them and why are they treated together under the ‘modern slavery’ term?
- How is modern slavery different from slavery?
- How forced labor and human trafficking happen in businesses in Cambodia?
- Is the issue of human trafficking a domestic, transboundary or regional issue? Who are the key players in combating human trafficking in all these situations and in different industries?
- What are the obligations and challenges for the government in regulating the issues of forced labor and human trafficking in Cambodia?
- What are the legal and moral responsibilities for businesses that engage in human trafficking and/or forced labor? What should companies do concretely to comply with their responsibilities?
- How far should these legal and moral responsibilities extend regarding modern slavery in their supply chains?
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 Cathy Zimmerman et al., Health and Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Subregion: Findings from a Survey of Men, Women and Children in Cambodia, Thailand and Viet Nam, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) International Organization for Migration (IOM) (2014) https://publications.iom.int/system/files/pdf/steam_report_mekong.pdf.
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